The difference is smoking doesn't give them an advantage over you does it? The problem with this model is its classist. We have enough of that bullshit IRL the last place we want to see it is in games. Games are supposed to be fair otherwise what's the point in playing? It's like you and I starting a game of Monopoly when you already own half the properties with hotels on them. You've already got disposable income that most people don't, isn't that enough? Do you have to constantly lord it over those who don't? How much is enough? How many yachts can you water-ski behind, Gordon?
It doesn't give as much of an advantage as you'd think, maybe at first when the game comes out. Those of us who can't play for 20+ hours per week yet have the disposable income to spend may have a bit of an advantage at first, but that will dissapear. And why are we always pitting everyone against each other, you can loan your ships, you'll need a crew to more effectively run your ship. Real players will always be better than AI in this case. Can't afford more than the starter ship yet your friend or corp mate has a plethora of multi-crew ships, then take a spot on his ship or ask to borrow one of his, I don't see how this is a bad thing at all. And it just so happens pledging for ships is how this game is being funded, and contrary to what most of you think or say it seems to be working out quite well.
I'll loan you a ship when the game is out Cutter, pick one, 890, Freelancer MIS, Gladius, Super Hornet, Constellation Phoenix, Reclaimer, Mustang, Retaliator, Redeemer, Carrack, pick one, they're all insured. There's no way I can fly them all at once.